On 'NYPD Blue,' the most-arresting story


There's an above-average CBS docudrama on tap tonight, which in itself is some kind of rarity. However, the best bet of all is the second episode of ABC's "NYPD Blue," which dispenses with most of the eyebrow-raising ploys and gets straight down to business, spinning another chapter in the best dramatic story line of the past few years.

* Full House (8-8:30 p.m., WJZ) -- Last week on the premiere of the CBS sitcom "Dave's World," the plot revolved around how the dad dealt with a child's reluctance to play in a local soccer league. Well, what's good enough for "Dave's World" is more than good enough for "Full House," which explores the same plot line after Michelle (played by those ubiquitous Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley) kicks a goal and refuses to play again. Why? Because she kicked the ball past her own goalie. ABC.

* Precious Victims (9-11 p.m., WBAL) -- A bizarre set of infanticide crimes is investigated and tried, though thankfully not re-enacted, in this 1993 docudrama, which features very fervent performances by Richard Thomas and Frederic Forrest as two of those pushing for justice in the case. CBS.

* NYPD Blue (10-11 p.m., WJZ) -- Except for a few relatively mild obscenities, tonight's "NYPD Blue" might as well be another episode of "Hill Street Blues" -- it's that focused on the story line, it's that tame, and it's that good. Speaking of "Hill Street," it's common knowledge that Dennis Franz made his early mark on that series, but here's something that's not as well known: So did David Caruso, his "NYPD Blue" co-star. On the second episode of "Hill Street Blues," Caruso had a featured guest role as the red-haired, hot-headed leader of an Irish street gang. Long-time "Hill Street" fans may or may not remember Caruso's sly, charismatic performance then, but one thing's for sure: "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" co-creator Steven Bochco never forgot, and he has awarded Caruso with a role that is all but guaranteed an Emmy nomination next year. ABC.

* The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WMAR) -- It's another late night where stand-up comic sitcom stars are making the rounds. Paul Reiser of "Mad About You" visits with Jay. NBC.

* Late Show With David Letterman (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WNUV) -- Brett Butler of tomorrow night's new "Grace Under Fire" visits with Dave.

* The Chevy Chase Show (midnight-1 a.m., WBFF) -- And George Wallace of the already canceled "Tall Hopes" visits with Chevy, which tells you something right there about the late-night hierarchy. Fox.


* Magical Worlds (8:30-9 p.m., DSC) -- If you're caught up in Fox's "The X-Files," which purport to be "inspired" by actual cases, you'll want to catch this new Discovery Channel documentary series debuting tonight, which takes a look at paranormal phenomena without straying too far from verifiable facts.

David Bianculli is the author of "Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously."

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